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Where is the lucrative ONLINE market for freelance writers?

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. #1
    I've been into freelance content writing for some time now and although not very comprehensive, I think I have a fair picture of how the freelance market for writers mostly is. Writing is one of those things I do for an income but I'm not completely dependent on it. However, I do intend to pursue a profitable and long-term career in writing as I believe it's a very lucrative field. Till now, I've been catering to some clients steadily most of which I came across through fellow writers or professional contacts. So far, so good but now I'm looking to expand my prospects. Needless to say, I keep track of what's happening in the freelance writing domain but am finding it increasingly difficult to hunt good clients that really understand the value of content and are ready/willing to pay the true price for high quality. I've pulled some gigs occasionally from sites like Odesk and Freelance and also some from forums like this one, but I find the overall market situation on these platforms quite depressing. I'm not sure of from where and how to start hunting clients or gigs ONLINE that will pay well and get long-term work too. Though quite aware I'm that freelance online job-boards, forums and content farms are not really places where high-paying gigs or writing jobs can be found in most cases, something gives me a hunch that if you search the right spots and negotiate tactfully, lucrative opportunities will surely be discovered.
    The internet is full of articles and 'how-to's about making handsome money from freelance writing but experience or what you learn personally is not only invaluable but also incommutable. That's why I would like you to share anything you might have to. I'm earnestly looking forward to inputs which can shed some light on these questions. Any constructive advice, suggestions and pointers are highly welcome.

    Thanks in advance to everyone who responds.
    SEMrush
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
    Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Crimebuster_of_the_Sea

    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea Well-Known Member

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    #2
    You need to pitch to clients away from these boards. Do you have any businesses in your area that would do well with a blog or new web copy? Have you seen any websites online with poor content that you can improve? These are the people you need to pitch to. Keep away from sites like DP and Odesk as you'll struggle to find any work that pays what you're worth.
     
    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  3. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #3
    The simplest rule of freelance writing online is that the easier it is to find (and do) the work, the less it pays.

    If you hunt individual, direct clients (by contacting them cold, by word of mouth, by visiting their site, etc.), they are more likely to pay better than clients who post jobs on boards or on sites.

    For example, a client on a content mill site wants cheap content: they use the site because they want cheap content. You will never convince them that better-paid content will be better for them, because their most important criterion is price. They want the best they can get without paying more.

    A direct client, acquired through (e.g.) word of mouth, comes in with different criteria. Their primary driver is that they've heard you produce great content. Provided they can fit you into their budget, they will pay better because their most important criterion is quality or end results. Sure, they'll want the best price they can get, but it's not their number one item.

    Between the two are the writing sites, which offer a whole gamut of services to make your life easier, with lower prices the more they do. At the top end of price are places like CC, where the prices are great because you do most of the work (and the waiting); at the bottom end of price are places like iWriter and rev share, where the prices are very low because they do most of the work. That's the trade-off.

    In short, if you're looking for better-paying clients, you'll have to do the leg-work (unless you're lucky enough to get word-of-mouth referrals). And that means a lot of cold-emailing to publications and marketing departments in the hope they either accept submissions (always check the rights) or are looking for someone to do what you are offering.

    Just like job-hunting in the real world, come to think of it. :)

    As far as pro jobs go, the must-have is Writer's Market, as far as I can tell. Never used it myself (either online or printed), but it is (so I gather) the definitive list of top-drawer opportunities and clients - assuming you're talking about content that takes tens of hours to produce, rather than just fairly-decent-paying, regular work.
     
    WLEadmin, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  4. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #4
    Thanks @Crimebuster_of_the_Sea.:) I guess you are insisting to focus more on the local market. Well, I'll have to survey that a bit as I haven't really looked into that area.
    Yep, poor sites I've seen aplenty but my problem is I can't efficiently convince the owners to invest reasonably to create content that will generate traffic. They turn their noses up at anything above $1 per 100 words (- a rate no serious writer can afford). I'm not grumbling but the fact is these people are crowding places like DP and Odesk and making it increasingly difficult to locate gigs that are worthy of your time and effort.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
    Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  5. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #5
    Thanks for the great and insightful advice @WLEadmin.:) It appears that clients who value content and do not prioritize price over quality never come to the freelance job-boards to post their requirements. So I think to grab good-paying offers, direct contact or word-of-mouth as you say is far better than hovering over content mills and the like.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
    Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  6. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #6
    For a "serious professional", yes. Never forget that content mill rates are actually quite good if you happen to live somewhere cheap and/or produce vast quantities of content very quickly. $5 or $10 for a 500-word article is crap in New York, but could pay a week's rent somewhere else. Or be worthwhile if it took you 15 minutes to write ($20-$40 per hour if you can keep it up...). Horses for courses, as they say!

    That's why relative terms are always so difficult to handle. Everyone always talks about "good pay", but rarely lays out what they consider "good". :)
     
    WLEadmin, Nov 14, 2014 IP
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  7. Alex Toll

    Alex Toll Active Member

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    #7
    It's a combination of everything, I guess. Copywriters today have to be marketers, if they want to excel or at least stay in the business. I've seen some people post their content offers in LinkedIn groups. I've seen others resort to Facebook. But of course, most of these are cheap gigs.

    Another good option is to treat your sources of income, just like you would treat your investments. Diversify them. oDesk, Freelancer - seems like bad options, but there still might be a client, who's willing to offer you a nice compensation. Then there are places like LinkedIn and Facebook groups, where you can actually build relationships with potential clients. At the same time, there are places like TextBroker, ConstantContent, Writtent and others. Get your tentacles in all of these, keep monitoring and you'll eventually find something decent.
     
    Alex Toll, Nov 14, 2014 IP
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  8. Crimebuster_of_the_Sea

    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea Well-Known Member

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    #8
    I've actually picked up a couple of clients from LinkedIn in the last month who pay the rates I ask. Now, if anyone looks at my profile and they're in the writing industry, I usually add them back and enquire as to whether they want content. I do, however, also post blog posts and answer questions in the community pages to try and build my credibility. Paid LinkedIn advertising is also good as you're purely advertising to people who are using business social media.
     
    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  9. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #9
    Nice advice @Alex Toll. Thanks:) I haven't done social media marketing extensively but professional communities like LinkedIn and even free social platforms like Facebook seem to be a good option. I wasn't aware, however, that people use these to post their offers as well. I know of some writers' groups on Google Plus. Is there a way to track down clientele through these networks - clientele willing to pay the price?
     
    Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  10. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #10
    That somewhat tells me how I can find good content buyers.:) These communities seem to be much better places.
    Does paid advertising (on any platform) work better than following people (i.e your prospects) and posting on blogs or community pages? I suppose it should since you are reaching out to a vaster crowd.
     
    Content Maestro, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  11. Crimebuster_of_the_Sea

    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea Well-Known Member

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    #11
    I think the answer to that is different for everyone, as we all have different pay rates and specialities. You'd be best to try each method out for yourself and see what works. It also depends on how you are posting on blogs and community pages. You need to establish yourself as a credible source in your industry. This takes time. It's taken me almost a year of doing this before I have found some work from it, but it's something I'm glad I have done.
     
    Crimebuster_of_the_Sea, Nov 14, 2014 IP
  12. mchllmll

    mchllmll Greenhorn

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    #12
    I have to agree with wleadmin, when I started out in Internet marketing back in 2007 use to hire cheap writers for $1 per 100 words. This was a time when great content wasn't needed to make money with small niche adsense sites.

    Nowadays I pay writers $7-$10 per 100 words maybe a little less if I buy in bulk. And when I look for a writer I usually either go to their blog or I find a post I like and I try to contact the author to see if he/she would like to write for me.

    Either way I don't look for writers on here. Nothing against you personally but I have a pre assumption that writers on here are of low quality.

    I would suggest you get yourself a personal website where you can post your portfolio. Also start a LinkedIn page and network with people who do seo. They will be able to provide you with tons of work. Especially if they have a pbn. You can also try to contact people on WF or BHW who sell posts on their PBN. Ask if they would like to hire you to do seo content for their customers.

    There are many other ways you can get clients if you get creative. I gave you a few ideas. Just start taking action.
     
    mchllmll, Nov 14, 2014 IP
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  13. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #13
    That, of course, is one of the big things with content: the rules change all the time. Ten years ago, you could keyword-stuff, write nonsense phrases and do pretty much whatever you wanted - the "desired result" for most customers was higher ranking, and it worked.

    After Penguin, Panda, Pitbull, Platypus and Popadom (or whatever Google ends up calling all their changes), the desired result of higher ranking requires authority content, useful articles, actual information and so on - a very different demand which cannot be formulated easily, and therefore poses a significant problem for many bottom-end writers.

    There's also the problem of cheaper clients not understanding that the days of writing keyword-stuffed content are finished. Educating clients is becoming a depressing necessity. The best SEO is no SEO, as I always say.

    How many PMs are you going to get from "high-qaulity content productors" now? :D

    I remember years back, before I had even become aware of the existence of DP forums. The first thing I learned about it was that "it pays crap and is stuffed full of really sh*tty writers" (paraphrased). Alarmingly bad reputation, all things considered, and one that's probably not true but is virtually impossible to work around (much like anyone who happens to be in Nigeria getting labelled as a scammer).
     
    WLEadmin, Nov 15, 2014 IP
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  14. Alex Toll

    Alex Toll Active Member

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    #14
    You're always welcome:) Yeah, people actually go there to post jobs. For example, "Supreme Copywriting International" group on LinkedIn (sorry, not allowed to post links - search it through LinkedIn) has some offers regularly. Yeah, most of them are crappy, but you never know - diversify! Good luck.
     
    Alex Toll, Nov 17, 2014 IP
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  15. jrbiz

    jrbiz Illustrious Member

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    #15
    You might want to look into being on the short list for advertising/marketing agencies in your general region (to start.) If you can establish a relationship, to start, as an overflow supplement for them, it could develop into a more comprehensive relationship after a few projects. Generally, agencies will vary in size from a 1-man shop to a firm with hundreds or even thousands of employees. All of them require copywriting for their clients. See if you have a local Direct Marketing or Advertising Association that you could join to network with these folks.
     
    jrbiz, Nov 18, 2014 IP
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  16. Otto Baynes

    Otto Baynes Greenhorn

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    #16
    Mostly true, but I've encountered some clients on mills that only went there because they didn't know where else to go. Once there they got frustrated with the limitations the mills put on rewrite requests and direct communication with the author and were more than happy to establish an outside relationship at a higher rate of pay :)

    Long-term clients that pay well are great if you can get them but right now there isn't any one particularly great mechanism for connecting writers to them, so it's a matter of building out with all the methods other people have suggested here, which means a bunch of uncompensated time in the near term.

    Personally I'd recommend just doing whatever's out there that pays the bills and isn't too odious and using that build-out time on your own projects instead -- websites, books, blogs, fiction, scriptwriting, reviews, whatever you're into.
     
    Otto Baynes, Nov 18, 2014 IP
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  17. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #17
    That is SUCH good advice - it's easy to forget that every writer is different: I couldn't handle doing product descriptions or full-on marketing, for example, but love informative non-fiction. When the bills come in, you do whatever is necessary to pay them, wherever that work comes from.

    As you say, regular clients can come from anywhere - my main ones came from the bidding sites, oddly enough, though the latest was by word of mouth. Never put down an opportunity, unless it offers horribly low pay or the client is nasty and unreasonable!
     
    WLEadmin, Nov 19, 2014 IP
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  18. Pauly Amani

    Pauly Amani Member

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    #18
    Ive actually been having success in the offline niche believe it or not, one of my buddies is a realtor and he needed content for the blog par of his website and He paid me $500 cash, to write just 30 articles, he reffered me to 3 other realtors and Ive made $1700 from them, and ive been writing less, after this amazing stroke of luck I had an epiphany, this could be lucrative if done with a concrete plan of attack(Im not a writer by trade), you can run with this idea if you see the opportunity
     
    Pauly Amani, Nov 23, 2014 IP
  19. Content Maestro

    Content Maestro Notable Member

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    #19
    Thanks for your input @Pauly Amani. I guess not many people get lucky as you. This is something that happens to few and its occurrence is a rarity.
    Your emphasis on a 'concrete plan of attack' is something I second but the biggest problem most of the times (at least for me) is finding out where the target (to be attacked) is. After navigating through tons of gigs on job boards and forums, I'm hardly able to come across something worthy of my time and caliber. Most probably I'm searching the wrong places but I've now started surveying the local market nearby and am trying to spread my services through word of mouth. So I suppose I have a reason to hope that something like this will happen to me some day if I am going the right way.:)
     
    Content Maestro, Nov 23, 2014 IP
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  20. WLEadmin

    WLEadmin Active Member

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    #20
    That's very true, but I think it's the concept that matters, not the event. It doesn't have to be someone local. It doesn't have to be someone by word of mouth. It could be someone you've contacted cold (or at least tepid) to see if they have any work, or someone on the bidding sites or forums who happens to be more reliable and understand the need for quality.

    For me, finding good clients is a bit like selling on eBay: you have to keep trying and hope that the right person sees it at the right time!
     
    WLEadmin, Nov 24, 2014 IP
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